In this blog post, it becomes obvious that out of all the certification paths available I’ve chosen the one more related to the Ops-side of the DevOps-spectrum. I’ve been there when infrastructure couldn’t be considered a code when a server needed fitting into a rack*, and never written ”real code” in my life apart from simple Perl/Python scripting. With cloud, I’ve continued to build upon that foundation. This reflects my certifications: I’ve done the Ops-path, but left the Dev-side totally untapped (this trend continues on the next [Azure] blog post). After doing my share of cloud certifications, I’ve dipped my toes into the realm of modern web programming. Does this mean that I should do the Dev certs next? Nope. The Pro level certs take a lot of time and I don’t see the investment of my free time paying back any time soon.
* Yes, cloud computing is just a cluster of computers that also needs fitting into a rack and petting, but it’s not really a mainstream job for a system administrator anymore, is it?
Ok, enough of my motivational circumstances. What about GCP then? I think out of all the clouds it’s the most user-friendly: the web console is just way better than AWS’s, the shell you get on the web console is nice and I would totally like to use App Engine on a project (with live debugging and other shiny thingies). Stackdriver as a whole still feels a little weird to me, but it has tons of functionality. And with the Google Kubernetes Engine being somewhat the best in the business, I would choose GCP whenever I’d have to run a container production load.
I’ve done the Associate Cloud Engineer and Professional Cloud Architect certs. There are also Professional Data Engineer and Professional Cloud Developer certifications and even one on G-Suite, but I’ve got no experience in those. Unlike AWS and Azure, Google actually does it’s own web training.. and they are far better than any of the 3rd party ones. How great is that! They also send you some (mostly useless) swag when you complete any certificate, which is a nice gesture.
You can find all the exams here https://cloud.google.com/certification/
Picture1: The least worst swag I got from Google
I did the Associate Cloud Engineer beta exam as a sort of practice exam for the professional one (because why not?). It took a few months for the exam results to arrive (for beta exams it tends to be that way). I’d actually totally forgotten about the whole exam by then, and it turned out that that I was one of the first one hundred to get the certificate. The exam was the least theoretical cert exam I’ve ever completed. If I’d have to give any hints, it would be to get familiar with the web console and SDK Tools. Use them, preferably in a practice project. Yes, you have to know some commands. Yes, you have to know where stuff is in the web console. This is an exam for a Cloud Engineer, it measures how well you can do stuff.
Out of all the cert exams I’ve done, the Professional Cloud Architect was my favourite; hard, but interesting. It threw really-really-really odd curveballs at me that couldn’t be prepared for and learning trivia by heart had no value in this one. It measured if you knew your cloud and it means everything that comes with it. It was also the exam I spent the most time studying for. I think it took some three months at one to two hours/day for me to get comfortable with the whole exam area.
For both the associate and pro I suggest the Google made Architecting with Google Cloud Platform Specialization. It might be a little too deep for the associate, but better too deep than too shallow.
Also for the pro, I would supplement the studying with the following:
- Linux academy course part 3
- Pt 1 & 2 are far worse than the ones on coursera, but pt 3 has some hints for the exam and also practice exams
- Read Google’s docs on the relevant services – spend extra effort on these two:
- Google’s own documentation on how to build a cloud architecture on different scenarios
- A cheat sheet of sorts on all Google Cloud services
- A quick intro for people coming with an AWS background
- Google’s own documentation on how GCP compares with AWS
- A practice exam provided by Google
- Study the case studies at the end of certification description, they might appear in the exam
Also as Google’s certs are a moving target (they get updated constantly) keep up with the news on their blog and I strongly suggest that you watch the Google Next speeches on relevant services from ’18
Doing the exam
At least in Finland, you can only do the exam as a proctored exam, where someone observes you doing the exam, and is only available in either Espoo or Helsinki. You can reserve your exam time in https://cloud.google.com/certification/.
Unlike AWS and Azure at the end of the exam you get information whether you passed or not, but no indication on how well you fared. No points, no percentages, nothing. I think this can be extremely frustrating for people who do not pass the exam, as they have no idea of whether they were even close. Just hope you’ll see the ”you passed”-message and to get to order some swag for yourself.
I’m also head of GDG Cloud Tampere and we’ll be hosting many nice events this year. Join the fun at https://www.meetup.com/GDG-Cloud-Tampere/